Hope springs eternal…. A reflection
We are living through uncertain times. Living history. One day, when we are long gone, our successors will read about these days and wonder what it must have been like, in the same way we read about the First World War or the transatlantic slave trade. The phrase ‘hope springs eternal’ has always caught my imagination because of the imagery of the phrase – the connection with rabbits is something that I cannot shift! People will keep on hoping, no matter what the odds. This expression was coined by Alexander Pope (An Essay on Man, 1732) and quickly became proverbial.
Hope is strong. It has kept me going during the dark days of lockdown during the past 12 weeks. Knowing that this too shall pass makes me feel hopeful that better days are around the corner. It makes me appreciate what I have and know that when I can do what I choose to again, I will appreciate it with a newness and enthusiasm that I really hope(!) remains with me.
I see hope as a lifeline. You may feel despair; loneliness; a lack of validity. Hope can be distant but achievable and like any trial, you have to go through it to reach the destination, but it is so sweet when you do!
This reminds me of an achievement that I completed in October 2019. I had not planned to climb a mountain that year – it was far from my thoughts as I was in the process of leaving my job. However, the opportunity arose to climb one of the Yorkshire Peaks – Whernside. Whernside is a mountain in the Yorkshire Dales in Northern England. It is the tallest of the Yorkshire Three Peaks, the other two being Ingleborough and Pen-y-ghent. It is the highest point in the ceremonial county of North Yorkshire and the historic West Riding of Yorkshire with the summit lying on the county border with Cumbria. It is the fifteenth most prominent hill in England.
It was not my intention to climb a mountain and as such, I didn’t really prioritise undertaking any training to complete the task. As such I was ill-prepared. I started off with great intentions and found the first hour or so ok – and then the ascent began. It was steady….the incline started to bite….the wind began to howl…….the clouds became heavy with rain…..and I wanted to turn back. This was not fun. However, I didn’t have a choice to go back. The only choices I had were:
- stay exactly where I was – which in reality was not an option
- climb to the top and then come down again!
Knowing that every step I took was getting me closer to where I wanted to be. So, yes, the rain came down….the wind made my hands cold (even though I was wearing gloves) and many of my walking companions went ahead of me because my pace was slower than theirs. I kept in my mind the hope of completion and how I would feel when I reached the summit.
Getting to the top was a real mixture of feelings – pride, tiredness, a REAL sense of achievement but mostly pride! I now had to negotiate gravity and getting down!!! But knowing that I had done the ‘hard bit’ of getting to the top, descending the mountain didn’t give me half as much distress as going up had done.
“You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.”Michelle Obama
As I climbed, I hoped that I wouldn’t underestimate the view from the top. I wanted to ‘drink it all in’ – the view that I had imagined that I had almost considered not seeing by giving up and going back. Hope got me to the top of the mountain – it took on a life of its own. And while it didn’t move mountains, it certainly moved me!!
So, what do YOU need hope for today? Don’t underestimate the power of hope that can positively impact on your life and others.
“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”Desmond Tutu
There is much darkness. We ALL need to know that there are better days ahead – and there are. We can remain where we are – or let hope carry us to better times. The destination is always better than where we are when hope is our vehicle.
An activity for you to try:
What are you hoping for? What have you struggled with during lockdown? Create a collage or write a journal entry of the things that you are hoping to do when lockdown restrictions are eased or lifted. Are there any activities or habits that you have done during lockdown that you will continue?